Friday :: Oct 7, 2005

The Wolf Patrolling The Chicken Ranch

by pessimist

King George has lost control of just about everything today! Despite the Obedient Broadcast Media harping repeatedly about the latest terror threat that probably isn't realistic (remember the gas tanker scare two months ago, right as gas prices were going up?) [So it proved to be!], many columnists aren't totally buying the Bu$hCo blather, at least not at face value. In fact, they are asking uncomfortable questions. We start with the editorial board of the New York Times:

President Bush's Major Speech: Sounding Old Themes on Iraq

We've lost track of the number of times President Bush has told Americans to ignore their own eyes and ears and pretend everything is going just fine in Iraq. Americans need clear guidelines for judging how long it makes sense to stay in Iraq. Are our troops helping create a nation, or simply delaying an inevitable civil war? Does a continued American presence help push the Middle East toward peace and democracy, or simply inflame hatred of the United States and serve as a rallying point for Al Qaeda?

Yesterday, when Mr. Bush added a ringing endorsement of his own policy to his speech on terrorism, it was that same old formula: the wrong questions, the wrong answers and no new direction. The fact that the president isn't willing even to raise the questions does not increase confidence in the ultimate outcome.

It is hard to argue with his assertion that if militants controlled Iraq, they would be well positioned "to develop weapons of mass destruction, to destroy Israel, to intimidate Europe, to assault the American people and to blackmail our government into isolation."

It is also hard to resist the temptation to say he should have thought of that before invading.

Continuing on the theme:

President Bush's Major Speech: Doing the 9/11 Time Warp Again

President Bush delivered what the White House promoted as a major address on terrorism. He delivered a reprise of his Sept. 11 rhetoric that suggested an avoidance of today's reality that seemed downright frightening. He seemed to be reading from a very old and familiar script as he revealed that terrorists recruit "disillusioned young men and women," some of whom build weapons based on information available on the Internet.
The president's inability to grow beyond his big moment in 2001 is unnerving. But the fact that his handlers continue to encourage him to milk 9/11 is infuriating.
The speech came one day after the White House threatened to veto a bill onto which the Senate added a ban on the use of "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" against prisoners of the American government. This president could not find the spine to veto a bloated transportation bill that included wildly wasteful projects like the now-famous "bridge to nowhere" in Alaska. What kind of priorities does that suggest?
If we ever needed the president to demonstrate that he has a working understanding of exactly where he wants to take this country, we need it now.

I somehow doubt that Georgus Ejimacatus Minimus has the slightest clue based on his recent performances - and this commentary from that radical lefty liberal blog BusinessWeek Online:

The Axis Of Evil: From Rhetoric To Reality

When President Bush first uttered the phrase "Axis of Evil" in his 2002 State of the Union Address, many experts thought it was laughable. While the countries referred to -- Iraq, Iran, and North Korea -- were all malevolent, "axis" implied the kind of linkage that existed in World War II between Italy and Germany and, to a lesser extent, Japan. Once again, it looked as if President Bush had tortured the English language and intellectual discourse.

Yet strangely enough, President Bush's policies, designed to thwart these countries, actually created what hadn't existed when he first broached the topic. Iran and Iraq haven't been as close in decades as they are now. And while I don't think North Korea and Iran are in cahoots, they do in effect aid each other when they negotiate over their nuclear programs. The nightmare Bush described in 2002 is now a reality, thanks to him.

Iran is exerting influence in Iraq far beyond what it ever could do in the past. Instead of Saddam's secular, Sunni-led government, Baghdad is now dominated by Shia with close ties to Tehran. Iraq no longer will be a counterbalance against Iran.

Peter Galbraith, a senior fellow at the U.S. Institute for Peace, argues that the proposed Iraqi constitution, while flawed, is the only thing that limits an Iranian power grab. Tehran controls the southern part of Iraq and has great influence in Baghdad. By apportioning control over three sectors to the Kurds, Shia, and Sunni, the constitution "stops Iran from taking over all of Iraq," Galbraith says. "Under the constitution, they'll be running just half of it."

Personally, I disagree with this assessment. It ignores Kurdish nationalism arousing Turkish concerns and intervention.

But I digress.

Putting The Tea Kettle On The Front Burner

Iran also could have an unintended impact on the six-party nuclear negotiations with North Korea -- and the six-party talks could have an effect on Iran's negotiations. With its oil and economic ties to the West, Iran has leverage to argue that it should not be denied its sovereign right under the Non-Proliferation Treaty to nuclear technology, and it may well win that debate. China and Russia seem likely to veto any move toward sanctions at the U.N. Security Council despite ample evidence that Iran has been hiding information about its program for nearly two decades.

What's more, the principles the six parties have agreed to in the North Korea negotiation contemplate a light-water reactor for Pyongyang at some point. If it's O.K. for North Korea, why not Iran?

The reverse is true as well. The discussion of a light-water reactor for Pyongyang is supposed to take place at an "appropriate time," which the Bush Administration probably thinks means never. But if Iran takes a hard line and is allowed to get its hands on nuclear technology, that will make it harder to deny North Korea its reactor. What would be the principle for doing so? That Iran has oil and North Korea doesn't? Indeed, energy-poor North Korea would have a stronger argument that it needs an energy source than petroleum-rich Tehran. North Korea and Iran may not be working formally in tandem, but they might as well be.

It surely wasn't Bush's intent to create an Axis of Evil. But he has done precisely that when his goal was to defang those nations.
The President is proving prophetic and visionary -- but not at all the way he wanted to be.

I wonder what the conservatives would have to say about this?

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